Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Framed modern art...diy made easy with the right tools

I am feeling liberated.  After a morning tinkering with my new Ryobi Compound Mitre Saw and Ryobi Nail Gun and I am ready to take on a whole lot more wood work.  I am nervous of Mr B's saws, now finally I have one that I am confident to use on my own, no more waiting for help!  Today I tested them on a project that I have been wanting to try for a while, making a floating frame for a canvas.  It was a gratifyingly short job with the help of the Mitre Saw and the Nail Gun and I love how the finished piece looks below.  

A couple of things I really like about the Ryobi compound mitre saw:
  • it has a laser guide which allows you to cut exactly where you marked the wood.
  • a simple but effective clamp to hold the wood in place and make sure your fingers are nowhere near the blade.
  • a great sliding action for larger pieces which allows a really smooth cut and allowed good control.
  • An easy to use mitre setting, you simply swing the front arm until it gets to the correct angle that you want, then lock it firmly into position with the front lock.
You can see below how clearly the laser line marks the wood, it is easy to match to the pencil line and make a really accurate cut.

To make your own basic floating frame you will need:
  • Any canvas - mine was a failed painting hiding in the garage
  • Wooden trim slightly wider than the depth of the canvas frame
  • Enlarged photo copy an image you like ($7 for B1 size at Officeworks)
  • Magic tape
Make as follows:
  • Tape photo copy to the front of the canvas, like wrapping a one sided present.  Make the corners as neat as possible and tape down securely.
  • Cut long sides of wood trim - measure them to be the same length as the canvas sides and mark the cut line in pencil with a set square.
  • Turn the laser guide on, match up the red laser line with the cut on the wood and lock wood securely into place.  
  • Clamp both side pieces to the sides securely and get your nail gun.  (Love the nail gun) Nail trim at left, then at right.  Start at the side so that you can adjust the piece if you need to.  This is the work of minutes and really really fun!
  • Cut the trim for the top and bottom pieces of the frame.  Measure these pieces from the edges of the already attached trim.
  • Cut, clamp and nail gun in place as before.
Yes it really was that easy.

What I really liked about the Ryobi Airstrike nail gun:
  • This model compresses its own air and doesn't need a stand alone compressor or canisters.  Less things to hire, buy and store.
  • Not to heavy, easy enough for a non-chippy like me to use
  • An easy nailing action and the ability to set nail depth
  • I cannot hammer in a nail straight, but with the Air Strike...to easy.
I am going to be making so many things with these fab new additions to the tool shed.
Next time I am going to try something a bit more complicated and use all that fabulous mitre capability.  Can't resist a final action shot.

So this was really a very easy test, I just couldn't wait to make something and give you a little feedback.  Mr B will be putting them through their paces when he replaces the cladding in the Currawong Cottage entrance.  I am thinking I may make a tray next, I want to test out the mitre capabilities.

Tools were provided by Ryobi but all opinions are as always my own.

Friday, July 31, 2015

inspirational styling at home with The Broken Heart Repair Shop

Some spaces are just inspirational!  Today I am sharing the home of my talented cousin Justine, proprietress  of The Broken Heart Repair Shop.  Justine has the gift of spotting a great buy at 100 paces, and the even greater one of styling spaces effortlessly and originally.  "Curating the lost and found" is how she describes her style and her shop.  Watch this space, Justine is going to be working with amazing artists to create a new home wares line soon.

Have a wonderful weekend

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

diy bedside pendant lamps ... part 2

Mission accomplished.  From design (below left) to finished installed product (below right).  What do you think?  I could not be more pleased with them.  Click here to see how I made the wooden structure, for more on the cord and installation read on below.

For this part of the project you need 2 extension cords, two lamp holders for pendants with a built in switch, and two lamp shades.

Step 1 - "piggy back" extension cords
I bought two 5m "piggy back" extension cords from Bunnings.  5m seems quite long but the next option down is 3m which is to short.  I also recommend the "piggy back" version as it means you don't use up all the plug points in your room, because the "piggy back" fitting has a plug on one side, and a plug point on the other.

Step 2 - attach the lamp holders
Next, cut off the socket end of the extension cord.  The lamp holders are going to be attached to this end BUT you need to thread it through the holes in the cross piece before putting it on.  Hold it up against the wall to make sure you have threaded it the right way.  Attaching the lamp holder is as easy as changing a plug.  You can see a close up of this type of fitting here.
For safety I am not going to explain how, ask your local hardware if you need help.

Step 3 - attach lamps to the wall
You will need to drill two holes (you can see them clearly on the left below) in the wooden upright that you are going to attach to the wall.  I used a countersink drill piece so that the screws sit into the wood, I could fill them and paint to get a completely smooth finish but I like how it looks for now.
Only drill this hole half way into the wood, then get a bit the same size as your wall screw and drill the hole right the way through.  Position the fittings where you want them and mark the wall through these holes so that you have the correct position.  Then use the appropriate wall fitting to attach them securely to the wall.

Once they are up you can add your choice of pendant or lamp shade.  These ones were $9.99 each from Bunnings and perfect for my white on white scheme.

You could go out and buy one of those pretty colourful pendant cords and use them in this project, but there are two problems.  First they are pendants and don't have a plug fitting which means you are going to have to attach one yourself.  The second is that the flex cord may be to short for your project remember to measure what you need.  If you want to use a colour flex contact an electrical specialist store and they will be able to get them for you.

So I am delighted with the project.  I can't wait to do another project soon.  Planning planning!

Thanks to Worx tools for letting me test drive the brushless motor drill.  I really love it and you can read all about why in the previous post.  As always all opinions are entirely my own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

diy bedside pendant lamps ... part 1

This one is a goodie.  You may remember that Mr B made these very gorgeous pendant lamps for our bedroom at the cottage.  Well I wanted to have a go too, but clearly my woodwork skills are a little less accomplished so it would have to be a bit more simple.  I came up with the design below, two pieces of wood with the pendant threaded through it.  A good project for testing my new Worx Tools brushless motor drill.  Below you can see my very simple design, two pieces of wood joined at right angles with some long screws & the cord (in yellow) threaded through, finished with a pendant shade.  

Two things I have learned from wood work lessons with Mr B.
Lesson 1 - the finish is much neater if the edges you are joining are perfectly straight and square.
Lesson 2 - Clamps are your friend, clamp your pieces together before you join them, clamp them to the work bench, and clamp in stabilisers.  You can never have to many clamps.  All this effort is going to keep the wood still while you are drilling & glueing and will give you a much better finish.

So no surprises that clamping everything together is where this project begins.

Step 1 - clamp everything together securely.
You can see below I started by clamping the long piece of wood to the edge of the table.
Then I positioned the second piece of wood at right angles and used a spare piece as a stabiliser and to make sure the join is exactly at right angles.  I clamped the stabiliser to the first piece and then clamped the second piece across the stabiliser.  This may sound confusing, just find your own way and make sure everything is held down tight.

Just a quick look at how the finished piece is going to look when it is put together.  Tutorial continues below.

So Step 1 was to clamp everything down (below left)

Step 2 - Predrill the holes in the piece that will go against the wall
This means you don't have to push so hard when you drill in the screw & in my experience this means I can drill straighter. I also used the Kreg bit to create a countersink hole which means the screw head will sit flush with the wood.  When you come to hanging the light this means the wooded upright will be able to lie flush against the wall.  You are going to thank me for suggesting this now.

Step 3 - Glue and Screw
Put a little wood glue on the surfaces you are going to join and screw together.

Step 4 - Clamp and let it dry
Leave it all securely clamped until the glue is dry and you are done.

Step 5 - Drill the holes in the cross piece for the cord
I forgot to photograph this step.  Just make sure your bit is a little bigger than the cord.  Pretty straight forward.

I am going to show you the finished product and discuss the cord in another post, once it is installed in the cottage bedroom.  

I am going to end with some comments on the Worx Brushless Drill that I used for this project.
We have another drill, a standard good product used by most trades, and I was given this one by Worx to road test.  I love it, and I am not just saying this because it was a gift, my opinions are always my own.  But I really love love love this drill.  

  • Firstly the brushless motor means that it is a little lighter than the normal drill which makes it feel better to use, especially if you don't have super muscular arms like me.  
  • Secondly the trigger has a really good action, it seems to be smoother than my other drill and definately allowed me to apply pressure more steadily which meant I had more control.  
  • Thirdly, the light is on the base of the handle and shines up at the drill bit, sounds minor but it's just a better position and makes where you are drilling easier to see.
  • Fourth, it has a really good driver bit that slots into a space on the handle for quick storage.  If you have spent hours hunting for drill bits like I have you will understand why this is a good feature.
  • Finally, the set came with two batteries.  This means you are never out of power in the middle of your project.  Batteries are expensive so a set that comes with two is a bonus.
It is going to look fab so looking forward to sharing the finished piece with you soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

currawong cottage...winter update

Some new pics of Currawong Cottage.  Looking so pretty now that it is getting some finishing touches.  Lots and lots of trim still to paint but seeing how far we have come gives me the energy to carry on.  And very very exciting news!!!  If you like the cottage you could spend a weekend there yourself!  See our Currawong Cottage website for rates and availability (and because it is pretty too).

We couldn't do any painting this time, it was just to cold and it was taking to long to dry, but we hung curtains, fixed the kitchen counter tops, build a bench seat and finished the entrance, hung lamps and arranged furniture in the third bedroom, added some decorative country pieces, and just generally had fun.  

Pop by the Currawong Cottage website and let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

anytime entertaining

Thinking back to some lovely summertime memories.  Sharing my favourite summer posts for those enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere right now.

I like winter, but summer is better...
Clockwise from top left: Australian wild flower dinner party, Gatsby Glamour, Lemon Slice ice balls, an evening outdoors

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

pecan nut shortbread... memories from my granny

These are my favourite biscuits ever!  Not only are they a delicious short bread with a dusting of icing sugar for sweetness and pecan nut for crunch, but they are also the biscuits my granny used to make for me when I went to spend holidays with her on her farm.  I remember the old biscuit tin they were kept in, drinking sweet hot tea out of my "small" Spode teacup, the cool feeling of slate underfoot and the smell of hot, dry, dusty highveld air.  Treasured memories of the place I most loved being when I was small.

Recently I made them with Miss J for the first time, you can see her "helping" me with the butter.  It is a great recipe to make with children because the dough is rolled into little balls, perfect for little hands.  To make you own follow the simple recipe below, and enjoy.

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 250g butter - softened to room temperature
  • teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 packet (80g) pecan nuts - broken into pieces
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar
  • icing sugar for dusting (around 2 cups in all)

To make:
  • Cream butter and sugar until well blended 
  • Add vanilla essence & blend
  • Add flour and mix until a rough dough forms
  • I do all the steps above in my food processor
  • Add the pecan nuts and mix the dough gently until all flour is blended.  Be gentle, this dough doesn't like to be overworked.
  • Roll into bite size balls.
  • Place in an oven preheated to 200C and bake until they are golden but not brown - around 20 minutes.  
  • Allow to cool
  • Once totally cool roll in icing sugar and store in a well sealed jar or tin

Now simply enjoy with your tea or coffee.  Mmm mmm

Found the lovely birdie cookie jar at my favourite $2 shop.  I am going to take it to the cottage on our farm to store holiday biscuits for my own children, hopefully creating the holiday biscuit memories all over again.

Friday, June 26, 2015

mid winter...in the country

I can't wait to be back beside the fire at the cottage this winter.  A good place to spend  a winter's evening.

Lots of projects to finish, time for walks with coats and boots, stew on the aga, a little bit of winter is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Build 101...why a walk in robe is a great style choice and a great investment

A walk in robe is not just a luxury item, it's an opportunity to increase the value of your home.  It's a chance to get your build dollars working hard for you, and here is why.

Here is why walk in robes are a good investment:
  • Compared to other building expenses it is a relatively small investment in cash and space, and it delivers the wow factor that will have people wanting to live in your house. 
  • You don't need much space to create lots of storage and lots of style.
  • It's a must have item for buyers of modern luxe homes.
  • You will love living with it now, and will reap the financial reward when you sell later. 
You don't need much space, in less than 3m wide you can create your own.  In terms of building costs we are talking around 9 square meters of space.  Much cheaper than putting in an extra room.  Our own walk in is xxxxxx and it's generous both aesthetically and in storage capacity.  The joinery cost around $3,500 not including a premium for the stained oak finish.  

Tailor your finish to your budget, but even with a small budget its possible to deliver a stylish and functional walk in.  See this post by Stylizmo for a glamorous transformation of a small room for around $700.

Have I got you convinced?  See below for my top tips to design your own glam walk in.

Finding inspiration
I don't think you can look past the Italian walk in robe designs (like Poliform) for inspiration.  They are all over both function and form, lots of hanging space, lots of drawers and a crisp, clean contemporary look.  

Plan for all items in your wardrobe
Don't forget to plan storage for items like hats, bags and boots.  

  • I love boots so I designed a shelf that is tall enough for mine to fit into.  No more scrounging under coats and dresses for me. 
  • Open shelves above hanging height are perfect for storing bags and hats which you don't need easy access to every day.
  • Drawers or slide out shelves for accessories, jewellery, belts and ties.
  • Extra shoe space if you have a large collection.
  • Storage space for handbags and hats can be set above hanging space as you will use it less often

His and Hers sides
Our walk in has two sides, His (Mr B) and Her's (moi), and because our clothes are different I designed them slightly differently too.

For him -
  • No full length hanging space, but 3 hanging areas just tall enough to hang suits and shirts.  We even hang t-shirts there is so much room.
  • A large pull out pants rack with space for shoes underneath.  (see how to make your own here)
  • 8 generous drawers, plenty of space for storing ties, belts and even shoes.
For her (moi ofcourse) - 
  • 2 long hanging sections with double drawers below.   I designed the height to fit mid length dresses and coats.  Most of us don't have wardrobes bursting with ballgowns requiring full length hanging space anymore.
  • Shoe shelves and a boot shelf.  Ladies shoes are pretty enough to display and they definitely need their own space.
Take storage right up to the ceiling
We used every inch of our 2.7m ceiling height.  
The area above the hanging space has been divided into two wide shelves.  
  • The lower shelf is easy enough to reach and perfect for storing less used items like hats, bags, or chunky sweaters.  
  • The higher shelf is great for storing blankets, seasonal bedding and in a happy coincidence are the perfect size for suitcases.  
If you don't plan to build all the way to the ceiling, make sure there is enough space on top of your wardrobe for baskets to store seasonal items in neatly.

Our walk in robe is finished in black stained oak, gorgeous but definitely a luxury item.  I think it has been totally worth the extra cost, its simple but feels luxurious, glamorous but with a crisp masculine touch.  I love the contrast of the chrome drawer pulls, a tiny bit luxe but not too girly.

The dark wood is lovely in the small space, it makes it moody and intimate.  To achieve something similar on a smaller budget, black painted wood or a good dark veneer would be very effective.

In this budget diy on Stylizmo, Nina has opted for white on white, and doesn't it look amazing.

The more hanging space the better
More is more, I like hanging everything, even t-shirts if I can.
In a choice between extra hanging space and extra drawers choose hanging space, better for your budget too.

Our walk in robe is still one of my favourite spaces.  I get that movie star feeling every time I use it and I would do it all over again tomorrow.  But even better I know it was a great investment in the value of our home.

It's not just about how lovely its going to be to live with now, you will get financial pay back later.  Hope I have convinced you to get planning.  I am going to share the measurements and finishes in my walk in robe in another post.  Until then, have a look at Build 101 for other post to help make your build experience that little bit easier.